Edinburgh dog owner calls for park’s damaged benches to be replaced

Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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VANDALS have caused council bosses to remove six benches from a Capital park – triggering a one-man campaign for their return.

Drug and alcohol-fuelled youths ripped up paving stones around three of the shabby seats in Trinity’s Steadfast Gate, near the other three in Victoria Park.

Dog-walker Ross Kerr is now calling for replacements – prompting a pledge from city chiefs to fund new ones in next year’s budget.

“If they’re going to take them away for antisocial behaviour, they might as well take away every park bench in Edinburgh,” said Mr Kerr, 59.

“The council keeps taking these things away. They’re only little things but they keep taking them away from people.

“We pay council tax and you’d expect something back,” added the cylinder gas dealer.

The married grandfather-of-two noticed the benches were missing on one of his regular walks with his three dogs two months ago. “I understand why they moved some of them, the ones in Steadfast Gate, because they were causing a problem close to houses, but the other three were used by older folk.

Mr Ross said the three benches at the end of a close in Steadfast Gate became a haven for antisocial behaviour.

“They were secluded a little bit and so young kids would go up there and rip up paving and throw it down on the grass.

“I understand why they created a problem but the other three were park benches in the garden area of the park.

“They were used by a lot of people in the summer, sitting down to enjoy the park and watching the world go by.

“They were a welcome break for joggers and older people especially.

“We’re constantly told to exercise more but removing these benches means that people coming from Victoria Park going towards the Water of Leith have nowhere to sit for half a mile or so and I know this is discouraging a lot of the senior generation.”

Mr Ross said he phoned the council to be told there were no plans to return the benches.

“I spoke to the parks manager who was quite pleasant and said the benches were in a poor state of repair – but that’s because the council hadn’t maintained them for years.

“He said they’d taken them away to see if anyone complained.”

Mr Ross has now launched a one-man campaign for the return of the benches – including contacting Leith councillor Marion Donaldson and sticking up posters to rally support.

“I’ve put up three notices around the area saying these park benches are gone and we need to go back with any objections – I don’t know if people have.”

Labour’s Cllr Donaldson declined to comment yesterday, referring calls to the council’s communications team.

A council spokeswoman said: “Benches have been removed from the Victoria Park walkway due to their poor state of repair. They were also believed to have attracted antisocial behaviour, following a number of complaints by the public.

“We are looking into replacing these by next summer and will consider alternative locations within the park, taking into account local feedback.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com